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Starkill - Shadow Sleep album review

Former black metallers reach for the opposite end of the spectrum

It’s been eight years since Starkill formed out of symphonic black metallers Massakren, shedding the corpsepaint to release an altogether more polished affair with their fretboard-burning melodeath debut Fires Of Life. The Chicago crew have been edging towards the more commercial end of extreme metal since, and album number three only furthers that trend.

While a serviceable, albeit sometimes cheesy, blend of Children Of Bodom and Dimmu Borgir is still the main name of the game here. Their well-practised mix of rasping vocals, catchy melodic death-cum-power metal riffing and impressive shredding mixes with symphonic synths and often ineffectual clean vocal choruses. New touches such as the likely divisive addition of pop-synth moments in the likes of No Saviour, or the more by-the-numbers symphonic metal feel to the likes of Piece Of Paradise make for what is arguably Starkill’s broadest record so far. The problem is that with this apparent push for wider appeal, it’s arguably their weakest too.